Earlier this year, Octavia Yearwood was talking with her good friend Najja Moon about how hard it is to meet other lesbian women in South Florida.
“I was sitting on a stool, she was sitting on a swing chair and we were like, 'Yo, for real, where are all the lesbians in Miami?' "
Moon didn’t quite have the answer, but she wanted to explore how to make those connections. Together, the women launched Lunchbox Miami, a monthly meet-up for lesbian, bisexual and queer women.
Through word-of-mouth and social media they’re creating the space they found was missing inside Yearwood’s Little Haiti apartment.
At the most recent gathering, the door opened around 7 p.m., and women continued to show up well into the night.
About eight women sat on floor playing Cards Against Humanity -- the card game that encourages highly inappropriate answers.
“This is how you know how weird somebody is, or not,” said Yearwood.
Dana De Greff, 31, had a good laugh over some of the answers. This was her first time attending the meet-up.
"It’s nice to have a space where I can be social with other queer individuals, and especially queer people of color, which is hard to find,” she said, adding that as an introvert, these types of social connections can sometimes be a personal challenge.
The living room where women can play various card games is renamed “the social room” for the night.
An empty bedroom doubles as the “art room.” Poems, doodles and collages decorate the walls.
“Ninety five percent of the work that is on the walls in this room is from queer and lesbian women,” said Yearwood.
The women are offered sharpies, spray paint and chalk to leave their mark.
One poem written with a black marker reads: “I will not run from my femininity, my sexuality, my humanness, my curves, they are mine.”
Tye Stephens, 33, drove down from West Palm Beach to hang out in the Little Haiti apartment.
“This is something new to us and I only say that because of the intimacy. You get around these women [and] they ain’t trippin. We vibe easy,” she said.
Over the course of the evening, nearly two dozen women showed up and many lamented the lack of permanent spaces for lesbian women to socialize. They noted even in the gay club scene, women are often relegated to a “special night” or a pop-up event.
“There’s only something temporary,” said Valerie Hill, 25. “There’s nothing permanent. Like guys have tons of permanent spaces and we were talking about why is that?”
Yearwood said this is exactly the type of conversation she hears when she informally surveys her friends about the social scene for lesbian women.
“Lesbians, unlike gay men most of the time, kind of get folded in. We are ambiguous sometimes to each other,” she said.
The gathering’s co-creator Najja Moon said this why she and Yearwood stepped up to create a social space. She’s also happy that the night draws a diverse mix of women.
“I think in Miami in particular, anything that’s a L-G-B-T-Q-this is largely male-dominated and white-dominated, which is curious because you feel as you’re walking the space that is Miami you see so much diversity,” she said. “But when you come into this more narrow spectrum of queer identity you don’t see that diversity in the same way.”
Moon said even though it’s frustrating there aren’t enough spaces for lesbian, bisexual and queer women, but it’s never too late to create them:
“I think that’s the great thing Miami is that you see the opportunity to fill in voids.”